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Why is the Senate Presidency important?

by Kiko Cueto

ON Monday, May 20, the upper chamber of the Philippine congress installed Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero as the leader of the 24-man chamber, making him the third most powerful person in the country, following the President and the Vice President.

So, just how important is the Senate Presidency?

Widely regarded as the most powerful figure in the Senate, the person designated as the Senate President, serves as the presiding officer of the Upper Chamber of Congress as well as the leader of the majority group. 

Under the Constitution, the Senate President is regarded as third in line of succession.

The Senate president is elected by the majority of the members of the Senators amongst themselves.

Since there are 24 senators, a majority or 13 votes is needed to win the Senate presidency.

Courtesy: Senate

This includes any vacant seats or senators that are not attending the session.

The powers of the Senate President

The Senate president wields considerable power by influencing the legislative agenda and has the ability to vote not just in order to break ties.

While it is tradition that he is the last senator to vote. 

A tied vote, therefore, means that the motion is lost, and that the Senate president cannot cast a tie-breaking vote since that would mean that the presiding officer would have had voted twice.

Courtesy: Senate

According to the Rule 3 of the Rules of the Senate, the Senate president has the powers and duties among others: to preside over the sessions of the Senate on the days and at the hours designated by it; to call the Senate to order and, if there is a quorum, to order the reading of the Journal of the preceding session and, after the Senate shall have acted upon it, to dispose of the matters appearing in the Order of Business in accordance with the Rules; to decide all points of order; to sign all measures, memorials, joint and concurrent resolutions; issue warrants, orders of arrest, subpoena and subpoena duces tecum; to see to it that all resolutions of the Senate are complied with; to have general control over the session hall, the antechambers, corridors and offices of the Senate; to maintain order in the session hall, the antechambers, corridors and in the offices of the Senate, and whenever there is disorder, to take appropriate measures to quell it; to designate an acting sergeant-at-arms, if the sergeant-at-arms resigns, is replaced or becomes incapacitated.

Likewise, the Senate President is tasked to appoint the subordinate personnel of the Senate in conformity with the provisions of the General Appropriations Act; to dismiss any employee for cause, which dismissal in the case of permanent and classified employees shall be in conformity with the Civil Service Law; and to diminish or increase the number of authorized personnel by consolidating or separating positions or items whenever the General Appropriations Act so authorizes and the total amount of salaries or allocations does not exceed the amount earmarked therein.

The Senate President also serves as a link with the Palace for the priority bills that will be needed to enact what the government needs.

President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr., had congratulated Senate President Escudero who replaced Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri.

Courtesy: Senate

In a statement posted on social media, Marcos acknowledged Escudero’s track record and experience in the legislative.

With Escudero at the helm, the President said he was confident that the Senate would continue prioritizing measures supporting the administration’s trust for positive transformation.

“I extend my support to the new Senate President, Chiz Escudero. His legislative record and commitment to public service have distinguished him as a dedicated leader,” Marcos said.

“Senator Chiz steps into this role following the commendable tenure of Senator Migz Zubiri, and I am confident that under his leadership, the Senate will continue to prioritize transformative laws to achieve our shared vision for a Bagong Pilipinas,” he added.

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